It’s been 10 years since the Wales Coast Path was officially opened – with England’s equivalent well on the way to completion. Celebrate with an invigorating climb to a coastal high point and enjoy the spectacular views
Words by Phoebe Smith
St Catherine’s Hill, Isle of Wight
About The chalky downs above Chale Bay are a highlight when walking the coast path of England’s largest island. This petite hillock (231m/760ft) allows you to take in the scenery, while also admiring its 14th-century link to the past: St Catherine’s Oratory – known locally as The Pepperpot – which sits on top. Despite the culinary moniker, the original structure was designed
as a beacon; it was commissioned by the Church as penance after a local lord was discovered stealing wine destined for French monks.
Walk it Blackgang Viewpoint car park marks the start of the walk that climbs Gore Down to the top of St Catherine’s Hill and extensive views.
Find out more visitisleofwight.co.uk
Holyhead Mountain, Anglesey
About As if the spectacular views along the Welsh coast weren’t enough, Anglesey’s mini mountain packs a further punch in providing historical relics seemingly at every turn. A meander around the northern reach of the coast path will see you discovering a Roman watchtower, remnants from the Iron, Bronze, Neolithic and Stone Ages, an old magazine store, a foghorn station (now an artist’s studio) and a Victorian folly-cum-RSPB hut. Speaking of birds, you might spot an Atlantic puffin or guillemot during your walk, or maybe even a grey seal. Not bad for a summit that’s only 220m/720ft in height.
Walk it The coast path begins just above the car park and you follow it past the old magazine hut to Ynys Arw – the North Stack – from where the path leads south to a rocky summit trail.
Find out more visitanglesey.co.uk
Hartland Point, Devon
About Although 99m/325ft isn’t all that high, from the rocky promontory of Hartland Point you will witness drama that belies its small stature. Sitting at the point where the Bristol Channel meets the Atlantic Ocean, its location was reputedly known by the Romans as The Promontory of Hercules for its crashing waves and treacherous currents. Stroll here to gawp at the precariously placed lighthouse (pictured) and the remains of the MS Johanna, which ran aground in 1982 and was destroyed (though, thanks to the RNLI, all crew survived).
Walk it You can reach the point itself easily from the Hartland Point car park, where the South West Coast Path leads up to the lighthouse. To loop your route back, turn off at Blagdon.
Find out more northdevon-aonb.org.uk
Arnside Knott, Cumbria
About With the Lake District National Park stealing so much attention, it’s easy to forget the huge stretch of varied seafront along the Lancashire and Cumbria coast. The highlight comes between Silverdale and the former fishing port of Arnside (once a popular Victorian hideaway) with its heady mix of limestone cliffs and deciduous woodland, filled with oak, hazel and ash trees, birds, rare butterflies and red deer. Climb up 159m/520ft Arnside Knott for views of the salt marshes of the Kent Estuary, the sands of Morecambe Bay, the Lakeland Fells and Yorkshire Dales.
Walk it From Arnside Knott car park, a well-defined footpath zigzags uphill to eventually reach the trig point on the summit.
Find out more nationaltrust.org.uk
Stac Pollaidh, Ross and Cromarty
About Fondly known as Stack Polly by its Gaelic-challenged friends, this cluster of chockstone pinnacles and crumbling buttresses is tantalising. A few miles inland, it might not be as ocean-adjacent as other peaks on this list, but if you’re driving the North Coast 500, you’ll pass it and be unable to resist. Without much effort, a walk to the ridge of this small (in Scottish terms) 612m/2,000ft mountain rewards you with views to the Summer Isles, Inverpolly Nature Reserve and the Atlantic.
Walk it A well-maintained path forms a complete circuit around Stac Pollaidh, directly from the car park. On the mountain’s northern side, the summit path branches off steeply uphill.
Find out more undiscoveredscotland.co.uk
Old Peak (South Cheek), North York Moors
About While the coast path in the north-east of England is still, in parts, a work in progress, one fully accessible section is the stretch of the North York Moors between Cloughton and Saltburn. Prime walking is found between two delightfully named promontories – Ness Point (or North Cheek) just north of Robin Hood’s Bay, and Old Peak (or South Cheek, pictured) in Ravenscar. Walk along the beach first, checking for fossils (ammonites are common) and petrified wood, before heading uphill to take in the wide vista over the bay and beyond.
Walk it Begin at Robin Hood’s Bay and keep the sea to your left with Old Peak ahead. As you get close to it, you’ll see the path that takes you away from the beach and up to the summit.
Find out more northyorkmoors.org.uk
Lympne Hill, Romney Marsh, Kent
About Standing atop this hill in the downlands of Kent, with a clear belt of land between you and the sea, you might wonder why it features on this list. But 6,000 years ago, you would have been on a cliff, with the sea crashing below. In fact, the line of the canal on this walk is where the old coastline was, as all the rest of the area – now known as Romney Marsh – was underwater. Its reclamation coincided with the arrival of the Romans and the marshland beginning to silt up. With the need for more space to produce food, they built sea walls and dug dykes to reclaim land. Take it all in from the churchyard of St Stephen’s before descending to pass the remains of the fort that once guarded it.
Walk it Make a loop from Hythe, along the Royal Military Canal Path, passing Port Lympne Wildlife Park as you head uphill and along the ridgeway for Lympne Castle, the church and coastal views.
Find out more discoveringbritain.org
St Aldhelm’s Head, Dorset
About Rising amid the limestone cliffs of the Jurassic Coast is this hulking headland, also known as St Alban’s Head. Although the highest point is
only 108m/354ft, its views and curios make it seem much bigger. From an isolated, windowless 12th-century chapel (pictured) on the cliff edge – reputedly built by a local man whose daughter drowned off the headland – to former coastguard cottages and a sculpture dedicated to radar research undertaken here during the Second
World War, this small peak holds a big legacy.
Walk it Start in the car park at Renscombe, just west of Worth Matravers, head south for the seafront, then follow the South West Coast Path to this coastal high point.
Find out more southwestcoastpath.org.uk
The Muckle, Dumfries and Galloway
About Most picture the Highlands when they think of Scottish hills, and the Hebridean isles for postcard-perfect beaches. While those areas clearly deliver, the country’s southern end also offers both. Take the landscape along the Solway Firth of Dumfries and Galloway. A sample slice of this southern Scottish seaside can be found between Kippford and Rockcliffe, where The Muckle Walk takes you up Mark Hill to the Muckle, a rocky section on its flank, with views of the Lake District and the Isle of Man from its 120m/394ft summit.
It also takes in wildflower meadows, rock pools and an island accessible only by foot at low tide.
Walk it From Kippford car park, take the footpath for Rockcliffe, then on to the Woodpecker Trail, which leads to the summit.
Find out more forestryandland.gov.scot
Beeston Bump, Norfolk
About Mention Norfolk to most people and they’ll likely gush about big skies, rich bird-watching opportunities and wide stretches of golden sand lined with amusement arcades and rentable deckchairs. One thing they probably won’t mention is hills. So it might amuse many to see a coastal climb highlighted in this famed flatland. But, after walking so many miles on the flat along the coast path, Beeston Bump (63m/207ft) feels just a little bit mountainous – in August 2021, it caused a stir when Google Maps incorrectly tagged it as the ‘tallest mountain in the world’!
Walk it The Norfolk Coast Path ascends this peak from either West Runton (if headed east) or Sheringham (if headed west), making a great high point while walking your chosen length of the coast path.
Find out more visitnorthnorfolk.com